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Go Back   SailNet Community > Contributing Authors > Cruising Articles > Bahamas E-Charts Get Better
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Topic Review (Newest First)
11-26-2010 10:37 AM
southwindphoto Navigation
Iíll have to say agree with the paper chart rout. I learned that way ,and still today depend on them.

Sure, while I sail by GPS, and rely upon them heavily, I always use my charts, when planning out a trip, and further use them when I make changes to routs.

Todayís modern GPS devises are more accurate than ever, but the charts outside the US, are less precise than desirable; For that reason, a prudent Captain, will always use any and all resources, to insure safe passage.
09-07-2010 06:14 PM
SailingGeek It's nice to see e-charts gett better and better, and slowly more affordable. I personally have used C-Maps in the area and found them OK.

I agree that paper charts are increasingly becoming a backup for e-charts, and I don't see a problem with that. I don't think using electronic navigation as a primary tool is "dangerous and irresponsible" per se. I would say that the best navigation, in general, is the one that uses a number of information sources, not a single one. A good mariner takes every opportunity to cross check his data using electronics, paper charts, eyeballs, soundings, radar and any other method available, even his nose.

Another important element is the local knlowledge and the word of mouth, and I believe it is still very important to get out in the real world, talk with locals whenever possible, and get their wisdom and advice, no matter how many fancy electronics you have.

I work for an electronic navigation system in the making called Bloosee http://www.bloosee.com that aims to incorporate both, e-charts and local knowledge, the latter being added by sailors themselves like in a wiki.

We have not added e-charts yet, and the local knowledge is being added faster in some areas than others, but it's free, and fun to check out (you need internet or an iPhone to use it) http://www.bloosee.com I think the systems of the future will be something along these lines: places where satellite images, charts and up-to-date local knowledge are together in one place, and you can get it all cheaply with a mobile device.

At any rate, thoughts, comments and feedback are appreciated.
10-06-2009 05:27 PM
witzgall Does anyone know where Lowrance gets it's charting informaton for their Nautipath electronic charts? Our Lowrance 7300c HD chartplotter contains charts for the US and Bahamas. Thusfar, it has proven to be very accurate for use in our current cruising ground - The Pamlico sound, and it's tributaries. So far so good. All of this talk about very inaccurate charts for the Bahamas makes me wonder how accurate they are for that region. Does anyone know?

Chris
09-30-2009 12:57 PM
Cruisingdad [QUOTE=tbessinger;512859]Captain Dave-

As always, I welcome and appreciate comments and criticism of my stories. I do, however, take exception to you saying I made a "dangerous and irresponsible" statement concerning paper charts as backup for electronic navigation. I take my responsibilities to my readers seriously, especially when it concerns safety. I'm in the middle of a 4,500-mile delivery from Fort Lauderdale to Marina Del Rey, California, and have some time to kill while waiting for our clearance through the Panama canal. so I decided to take a few minutes and address your comment.
These days, the majority of new boaters equip themselves solely with electronic navigation devices and see no need to buy or even learn how to use paper charts. This is wrong, and can lead to trouble. All it takes is a bad charging system or a lightning hit to render all electronic aids unusable. Sadly, even if most of these mariners have paper charts on board, chances are they won't be able to use them properly. This is how Seatow makes money and the Coast Guard keeps busy. I stressed the point that sailors should carry charts (and know how to use them) because so many people don't. You say I'm being "dangerous and irresponsible." I say that I'm trying to tell people to have backups, backups, backups.
The other day, while delivering a boat from Edgartown Mass., to Newport, RI, I heard a conversation between a boater in distress and the USCG. The boater had gotten lost between Marion and The Elizabeth Islands because he didn't even know how to use his chartplotter. Charts might have helped, but I doubt it.
On another recent delivery from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Newport, we lost all our electronics due to a short in the wiring system. Sure we had small-scale charts of the area, but nothing detailed for Shelburne Harbour, where we needed to go for repairs. I pulled out my laptop and fired up Nobeltec Admiral, on which I had charts for the entire World, and fired up my handheld GPS. Without the detailed electronic charting of Shelburne Harbour, our 10-mile passage through the fog-shrouded, current-addled waters would have been difficult and dangerous. Although having the detailed paper charts as well would have also served the purpose, I know for a fact that my client would have balked had I suggested he buy every single paper chart for every harbor between Halifax and Newport. But due to the fact that he'd hired a well-equipped, prudent mariner, I had what we needed and the passage was successfully accomplished.
You're welcome to comment on my stories, and tell people what you will about your theories on which is the backup, paper or electronic charts, but please, don't call my writing "dangerous and irresponsible," because it's not. I would never send people into danger, nor would my editors allow me to do so.
Fair winds, Captain.[/QUOTE]

Good followup.

- CD
08-11-2009 12:56 PM
tbessinger
"Dangerous and Irresponsible?" I Think Not.

[QUOTE=CaptDaveB;380207]Hey guys,

I have successfully navigated the Bahamas and much of the Caribbean for the past 30 years on vessels that average 6' of draft. On my first venture to the Bahamas (circa 1978), I used DMA charts and the "Bahamas Cruising Guide" as my sources of nav data. My navigational instruments consisted of a compass, time piece, sextant, binoculars, and of course, pencil, dividers, and parallel ruler. My array of electronics consisted of an RDF, VHF, and SSB, and sounder. All of this was more than adequate for safe navigation through the Bahamas. Most important in addition to these tools was my skill and judgment as a professional licensed operator. For those not familiar with this technique of safe navigation, I used the seemingly forgotten method called "Dead Reckoning". (Any of you electronic sailors heard of this?)

I have seen the evolution of LORAN A, LORAN C, SATNAV, and the various versions of GPS, DGPS, and GPS WAAS. Since the advent of electronic charts, I have used them extensively. (Garmin, CMAP, MAPTECH, navionics)

Being the prudent mariner, I always have the paper charts and continue to use them and the core navigation tools, saving the electronic stuff to make things easier for those who donít have a clue to the true aspects of navigation.

The most accurate electronic charts I have found thus far are the digitized NOAA paper charts. I have found that the vector charts are riddled with errors and inconsistencies (even the new ones), not to mention the inconsistencies for the same chart on different machines or different software.

It seems every one involved in this post has forgotten the one most important rule: Being a prudent Mariner includes using all available information to safely navigate.

In the original post, Bahamas E-Charts Get Better , the author statesĒ While I'd make sure to carry as much paper information as possible to back up the electronic chartingĒ. As Cruising World's electronics editor, this is a dangerous and irresponsible statement for Mr. Bessinger to make. The electronic charting should to be used to back up your basic navigational tools and skills, I.E. paper charts, compass, etc.

NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND!

It is a mindset like this that gets so many people into dangerous situations.

Donít get me wrong, I appreciate the conveniences of electronic charts and the machines that run them. Through years of experience, I know better than to put the safety of myself, vessel, and crew, primarily on electronics and the 12 volts that runs them. If you doubt what I say, ask any experienced professional.[/QUOTE]

Captain Dave-

As always, I welcome and appreciate comments and criticism of my stories. I do, however, take exception to you saying I made a "dangerous and irresponsible" statement concerning paper charts as backup for electronic navigation. I take my responsibilities to my readers seriously, especially when it concerns safety. I'm in the middle of a 4,500-mile delivery from Fort Lauderdale to Marina Del Rey, California, and have some time to kill while waiting for our clearance through the Panama canal. so I decided to take a few minutes and address your comment.
These days, the majority of new boaters equip themselves solely with electronic navigation devices and see no need to buy or even learn how to use paper charts. This is wrong, and can lead to trouble. All it takes is a bad charging system or a lightning hit to render all electronic aids unusable. Sadly, even if most of these mariners have paper charts on board, chances are they won't be able to use them properly. This is how Seatow makes money and the Coast Guard keeps busy. I stressed the point that sailors should carry charts (and know how to use them) because so many people don't. You say I'm being "dangerous and irresponsible." I say that I'm trying to tell people to have backups, backups, backups.
The other day, while delivering a boat from Edgartown Mass., to Newport, RI, I heard a conversation between a boater in distress and the USCG. The boater had gotten lost between Marion and The Elizabeth Islands because he didn't even know how to use his chartplotter. Charts might have helped, but I doubt it.
On another recent delivery from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Newport, we lost all our electronics due to a short in the wiring system. Sure we had small-scale charts of the area, but nothing detailed for Shelburne Harbour, where we needed to go for repairs. I pulled out my laptop and fired up Nobeltec Admiral, on which I had charts for the entire World, and fired up my handheld GPS. Without the detailed electronic charting of Shelburne Harbour, our 10-mile passage through the fog-shrouded, current-addled waters would have been difficult and dangerous. Although having the detailed paper charts as well would have also served the purpose, I know for a fact that my client would have balked had I suggested he buy every single paper chart for every harbor between Halifax and Newport. But due to the fact that he'd hired a well-equipped, prudent mariner, I had what we needed and the passage was successfully accomplished.
You're welcome to comment on my stories, and tell people what you will about your theories on which is the backup, paper or electronic charts, but please, don't call my writing "dangerous and irresponsible," because it's not. I would never send people into danger, nor would my editors allow me to do so.
Fair winds, Captain.
04-02-2009 01:14 AM
halyardz
Abacos--A Few Minor Chart Errors

We generally agree about the consistent improvement of electronic charting software. We used C-Map/Jeppsen with our Standard Horizon plotter with Explorer paper chart backup on our 2008 Abacos trip. The "club" allows you to update the chip on a yearly basis for a reasonable fee.

The only major error we found (on both) was on the return run to Ft. Pierce. We headed for Sand Ridge ( about 27.09/79.09) looking for the reported shallow water spot to toss the hook down for a few hours of rest. After looking for the charted shallow spot for 45 minutes we gave up and did toss the hook but no 9-14' of water, more like 20-28'. With a NE chop coming in we had a rocky night.
10-06-2008 11:35 AM
Vasco CaptDave,

Been going there myself since 1990, before gps. There was Loran but it was miles out in the Bahamas. Whenever I left a cut I always looked back and made a sketch so I could find it coming back. The charts in those days were mostly from the real olden days, old Admiralty charts, some from the 1800's. The main piloting instrument was a hand bearing compass.

However, I much prefer the ease of electronic charts with the caveat that, for the Bahamas, you must have Explorer charts too. The electronic charts are only good if you've tested them and to properly test them you have to be in those waters. They all look good at a boat show demo but in reality might be miles out. That's what I found with Navionics.

I have found the areas where I can rely on the electronic charts and have found areas where I cannot. I always have the paper charts on the nav table. My concern is that some think electronic charts are totally accurate when they certainly are not. One should be very careful in the Bahamas when relying on electronic charts in areas where one has not used them before, especially Navionics chips.

The electronic chart makers are talking to a generation of recreational sailors who think differently from my generation. Navigation and piloting is becoming a video game. With accurate chips and reliable electronics and redundancies this is fine. I love it myself, it makes life so much easier. With accurate chips, a good plotter interfaced with an autopilot nothing could be easier. But like all software you must read the fine print in the licensing agreement.

To set sail relying solely on electronics is to go blindly.
10-06-2008 11:27 AM
camaraderie Dave...while we can certainly agree on the paper vs. electronic issue, I would heartily disagree on the NOAA charts vs. the Explorer Charts. The NOAA charts are based on soundings taken DECADES ago whereas the Lewis's take NEW soundings from their boat and update each chartbook every 4 years or so.
I used the Maptech NOAA charts on my first Bahamas trip then switched to Explorer on subsequent trips and there is NO contest on the detail and accuracy.
I witnessed the Lewis's actually doing their soundings in Rock Sound Eleuthra in 2004 and they found a new coral head within 6 ft of the surface near the harbor entrance that was NOT on their previous survey. You are NOT gonna get that kind of detail on the NOAA charts.
BTW...my draft is 6 ft. too.
10-06-2008 10:47 AM
CaptDaveB Hey guys,

I have successfully navigated the Bahamas and much of the Caribbean for the past 30 years on vessels that average 6' of draft. On my first venture to the Bahamas (circa 1978), I used DMA charts and the "Bahamas Cruising Guide" as my sources of nav data. My navigational instruments consisted of a compass, time piece, sextant, binoculars, and of course, pencil, dividers, and parallel ruler. My array of electronics consisted of an RDF, VHF, and SSB, and sounder. All of this was more than adequate for safe navigation through the Bahamas. Most important in addition to these tools was my skill and judgment as a professional licensed operator. For those not familiar with this technique of safe navigation, I used the seemingly forgotten method called "Dead Reckoning". (Any of you electronic sailors heard of this?)

I have seen the evolution of LORAN A, LORAN C, SATNAV, and the various versions of GPS, DGPS, and GPS WAAS. Since the advent of electronic charts, I have used them extensively. (Garmin, CMAP, MAPTECH, navionics)

Being the prudent mariner, I always have the paper charts and continue to use them and the core navigation tools, saving the electronic stuff to make things easier for those who donít have a clue to the true aspects of navigation.

The most accurate electronic charts I have found thus far are the digitized NOAA paper charts. I have found that the vector charts are riddled with errors and inconsistencies (even the new ones), not to mention the inconsistencies for the same chart on different machines or different software.

It seems every one involved in this post has forgotten the one most important rule: Being a prudent Mariner includes using all available information to safely navigate.

In the original post, Bahamas E-Charts Get Better , the author statesĒ While I'd make sure to carry as much paper information as possible to back up the electronic chartingĒ. As Cruising World's electronics editor, this is a dangerous and irresponsible statement for Mr. Bessinger to make. The electronic charting should to be used to back up your basic navigational tools and skills, I.E. paper charts, compass, etc.

NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND!

It is a mindset like this that gets so many people into dangerous situations.

Donít get me wrong, I appreciate the conveniences of electronic charts and the machines that run them. Through years of experience, I know better than to put the safety of myself, vessel, and crew, primarily on electronics and the 12 volts that runs them. If you doubt what I say, ask any experienced professional.
09-17-2008 02:10 PM
Vasco I for one will not be getting the new Navionics Bahamas chip unless they guarantee that all the geo-referencing errors have been eliminated. Their electronic charts of the Bahamas are the worse I have seen. In fact their latest one before this revision was worse than an earlier version that apparently had "borrowed" data on it that they had to remove. My Navionics chip of 2004 was better than the 2006 one. I have corresponded with Navionics but they are unable to tell me that the specific geo-referencing errors I reprted have been corrected. Their chip is so bad that last year a petition was going around in Georgetown complaining to both Raymarine and Navionics about all the errors. Apparently Navionics is too cheap to license Explorer chart data. I wish my Raymarine chartplotter would take a C-Map chip. I will never again buy a chartplotter that takes Navionics chip. Yes, I am not a happy Navionics customer.
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